Agreed and this is definitely worth looking at:
Not all people will be in lock-step understanding of a need. We've seen this issue on the South Side with alderman out of touch with the needs of the cyclists in their communities. The case this Equity Report makes is that you can't look at each community exactly the same and assume one doesn't need a solid infrastructure with safe accommodations. When the planners are only representing one group, some communities can completely lose out. In the case of Chicago, the South and West sides don't have much-needed road diets and protected bike lanes. Lack bike share. Not all people use bikes for work commutes so it is easy to assume one community won't need it because they use bikes differently. The report gets into that issue.
"People of color and low-income Americans are disproportionately at risk while on bikes. Safer bike infrastructure helps address this urgent issue."
There is also the concept of "build it and they will come".
Honestly, the city of Chicago has A LOT of work to do to course correct and bike advocacy has been so focused on the Northside and downtown/Loop area that other areas have not had any funding and when they are forced to ride on sidewalks, then they get pulled over by CPD as "suspicious" and patted down for drugs. Can you imagine this happening in Lincoln Park? No, because that would never happen.
And with regards to a progressive outcome, our planet is in crisis. We have a climate crisis and we keep throwing cars at the problem - the least efficient solution. It's amazing how this is not a part of the equation and top of mind to everyone. Just look at Lake Michigan with high water and all of the local flooding. It is only going to get worse. We should automatically go with the best, most progressive solutions at this point because we are coming to a point of no return pretty quickly and planning and execution takes time.
Why has the bike advocacy just focused on northside and loop areas at the cost of the rest of the city? Money or Race or what? It's easy to point fingers at CPD for stop and frisk for sidewalk riding in Englewood but maybe the finger should be pointed at Bike Advocacy for putting all the resources in Lincoln Park and the Loop.
This is what's wrong for expecting money to be spent on infrastructure while not educating motorists, and cyclists for that matter, on sharing the road. The money just isn't there to create the whole infrastructure while education thru Drivers Ed and Traffic School, which already exist, is more affordable. The vehicle for education is already in place and no matter what else bike advocacy is doing promoting education thru these existing programs should be the number one priority.
Don't you think that advocacy has been focused in certain parts of the city primarily because that's where the residents were already most interested in, and receptive to, bike infra? IOW, the northside is the low-hanging fruit. And even there, it still feels like pulling teeth just to get a little paint splashed on a street...
Paul's comment captures a lot of what my original point was meant to be. You have to be careful labeling Forester's ideas as simply based on white, male ideology when a lot of the complete streets and Vision Zero framework is built on white, liberal/progressive ideology (from both women and men as the difference to a degree, though). That's not to say that POC activists haven't played a role, or that communities of color wouldn't adopt many of the infrastructure plans based on their vision of their own needs in the community, but the origin of much of the push in most major cities was born out of rich, liberal, and predominantly white communities.
That becomes important when we discuss equity, which is two-fold here. You have the equity of how resources are distributed, and it is indisputable that resources in Chicago have been focused on well-to-do areas with very often drastically less investment on the west and south sides. So we can say equity in that context means resources need to be allocated better, which is very valid and true.
We then have equity in the form of making sure voices are heard. That's a lot more tricky when we start talking about complete streets, as many communities of color may not want bike-dedicated infrastructure as a priority. They may also feel it will increase gentrification, as it is an "amenity" typically associated with gentrification. So what do you do then? Go forward with an idea that has its genesis in white, liberal/progressive thought even though the community of color itself may not want it as a whole? It's a tricky situation. I think education as to the benefits of complete streets would help, as would involving many more POC in the designs so it's more organic to those communities and not so white, liberal driven from the outside, but at the end we do need to be cognizant that some of this will still play off as progressives coming into these areas and trying to tell people what's good for them, with many of those progressives still being white.
Some of the initial Vision Zero push reflected these challenges, as the initial plan focused in part on increased enforcement, and many POC activists were quick to point out how harmful that might be to the very communities Vision Zero was trying to help.
The communities as a whole may not understand the necessity but That happens everywhere. Just this summer Lincoln Park non-biking residents were freaking out over a bike lane - it’s what NIMBY is all about. Why wouldn’t Chicago listen to those that ride? There are many cyclists from the underserved areas. They would be the ones to engage with regards to the needs of cyclists. The issue of being a car-centric society is universal but I don’t see that stopping infrastructure from being built in more affluent areas, why should that be what stops it on the South and West sides.
And a previous comment in this thread said “we can’t afford infrastructure everywhere” and that is exactly the thinking that got us here. Chicago will put millions of dollars in fancy flyovers, Millenium Park, turning an airport into a park and concert pavilion, building the heck out of Navy Pier, and setting up bike infrastructure in affluent neighborhoods but then cry poor when it comes to less affluent areas of the city with a higher population of people of color? So let’s cheap out and see if we can educate drivers? Even though all studies point to that more people will ride if they have protected bike lanes and infrastructure? Even though many of the cycling-related deaths end up in the very neighborhoods that have no infrastructure? Everyone deserves safe accommodations, public transportation, and well maintained roads and bike lanes. They pay taxes too so why are the South and West sides less deserving? It’s a myth that people of color don’t bike. Equity takes work and commitment. Chicago can’t afford not to.
One issue on the far south side that doesn't usually come into this discussion is ward size - with respective to the number of road miles to maintain and how that affects aldermen's willingness to spend menu money on bike infrastructure. The 9th, 10th, 34th and 19th wards are 4 of the 5 largest in terms of geographic footprint and number of road miles. Ald. Carrie Austin in the 34th has been supportive on the issue of bike infrastructure. Ald. Sadlowski-Garza in the 10th is interested in bike issues but has the largest number of road miles, combined with a high volume of truck traffic beating up those roads, so she hesitates to commit to more bike infrastructure. Ald. Beale in the 9th and Ald O'Shea in the 19th don't do much to help bikes and peds.
The densest downtown and north side wards have maybe 1/3 the road mileage of the largest wards, so their menu money goes a lot further. In my recent op-ed in Crain's Chicago Business, I suggested the idea of splitting menu money into 2 pots, and allocating the paving money in a more equitable way.
Of course, they don't have the same extreme number of road miles in the 3rd, 4th and 5th wards, where some aldermen think that black people don't ride bikes. That's a slightly different set of issues.
Well said, Yasmeen. Thank you.
It sounds like racism to me.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen have a lot of white males. I've got photos to prove it.
"If we don’t view transportation through lens of equity, ethics, & empathy, outcome is 100% predictable. "
"'40,000/year die in crashes, greenhouse gases go up, sprawl continues, we get unhealthier, more people impacted by poor air, inequality expands’”
I avoided this thread for a long time and finally decided to read through it. Forester's ideas were borne of a time when the reality was the supremacy of automobiles and when Detroit was a thriving metropolis based on those automobiles. I recently visited that city which is rebounding and which is developing a network of bicycle lanes adapting to a world of which Forester never dreamed. When I was in high school in the early 1970's and decided to lead a number of neighborhood kids downtown from Des-Plaines we rode in Forester's world and took the lane when needed knowing that we needed to act as vehicles and to to assert our presence on the road. That same ride today is a whole lot easier and more fun.
I now ride in a different world where bicycles are slowly becoming a force on the roads and demanding their place and where infrastructure is finally being developed as was done eons ago in northern Europe. It may have a negligible effect on many of us as we are experienced cyclists and we can deal with the exigencies of the road. The new riders, our children, the fleets of Divvy riders, people who scratched together a few bucks to get an operational machine from a place like Working Bikes, are well served by this infrastructure. They are safer. They are more likely to ride and reduce their carbon footprint by just a smidge. Less experienced riders have less of that city claustrophobia that made urban biking scary notwithstanding all the threads on this forum about terrible things that have happened on the road. This is a work in progress.
Then again, there are the less inner burbs---
There are still lots of places where the car is king and where the infrastructure is a rocky, ill-paved shoulder. We need to remain effective cyclists under those conditions and we also need to use modern tools so Google Maps can show us a less trechorous route to our destination. I am glad that I have Forester's tools in my paninier and can pull them out when the situation calls for them.
As regards the comments regarding where infrastructure is placed, this is less about cycling and more about public policy. Money and resources have to be spread to all communities. There is no reason for good schools to be in one place and crappy schools in another. There is no reason for bike lanes to be in one place and no lane in another. To those who say that there is no demand in some communities I take an excellent line from an otherwise overrated baseball movie, "If you build it they will come." They will ride too.
Vehicular cycling for transportation is unfortunately necessary in many places. It's wise to learn the skills to survive when you must share the road with all kinds of vehicles. I often fear for those I see on the road who do not have these skills.
But there is no future for cycling as transportation if there are no safe places for kids to learn and explore, and there is very little future if the experience remains one that only daredevils and thrill seekers can enjoy.
Forester's vision would (and may) be the death of transportation cycling.